Budget 2020: Nirmala Sitharaman reveals three themes of Budget
As she rose to present her second Union Budget today, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the budget for the financial year of 2020-21 revolves around three themes: Aspirational India, Economic development for All, and building a Caring society. She is presenting the budget at a time when the economy is witnessing a historic slump, the worst one since the global slowdown of 2008-09.
Praising her government, Sitharaman said Prime Minister Narendra Modi took steps keeping development in mind. She called the Goods and Services Tax (GST) an economic reform and lamented that its architect wasn't present. "I pay homage to Shri Arun Jaitley," Sitharaman said, while other parliamentarians of the Bharatiya Janata Party cheered. She said the budget will ensure money reaches the underprivileged ones.
Speaking on the first theme of Aspirational India, Sitharaman said the focus will be put on skills, education, and agriculture. "The government is committed to double the farmer income by 2022. Farmers with barren land can set up solar power units so that they can get a living out of it," she added. She said a scheme will help 20 lakh farmers set solar pumps.
The Finance Minister said the government has taken comprehensive measures to provide relief to 100 water-stressed districts. She said the government will expand the PM Kusum scheme, which gives freedom from kerosene and talks about solar power. "Our govt will encourage balanced use of fertilizers. This is an important step because the current use of chemical fertilizers is incentivized," she said.
In a bid to show how committed the government is for the upliftment of women, Sitharaman said women Self Help Groups (SHGs) will run Dhanya Lakshmi Program. "NABARD will take up an exercise of mapping and geotagging agricultural warehouses, cold storage and other inventory storages," she added. She also said that Kisan Rail will help in transporting perishable goods across India.
Putting the focus on quality education, Sitharaman said a full-fledged online education program, after teaming up with the top 100 institutes, will be started. She also said engineers will be given internships for one year by urban local bodies to help them learn about how the government functions. A national Police university and a national forensic science university are also being proposed.
The Finance Minister also announced the "TB haarega, desh jeetega (Tuberculosis will lose, the nation will win)" campaign. Under the campaign, Sitharaman said that the government's plans to end tuberculosis by the year 2025. The government has also proposed to set up hospitals on PPP mode in 112 aspirational districts, prioritizing those districts which have no Ayushman Hospitals.
In what qualifies as a major announcement, the Finance Minister said Rs. 99,300 crore will be allocated for the education sector and Rs. 3,000 crore for skill development. Further, she said 5 new smart cities will come up soon.